Sunday, May 31, 2009

white truffle mushroom cheeseburgers

  • 1.25 pounds of chop meat
  • provolone cheese
  • good quality bbq sauce
  • white button mushrooms, sliced
  • white truffle oil
  • sesame seed rolls

Form meat into four even sized patties, using your palms as sizing guides. Heat mushrooms over a medium high flame in a little olive oil. Cook until mushrooms have shrunk to about half their size, reduce heat to low and add a little bit of white truffle oil. Meanwhile, cook burgers to desired doneness (if you're older than 12 it should be medium rare at most- just sayin) on the bbq, adding cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Assemble on bun with sauce on bottom, then burger, then mushrooms.

The dish: It's official, bbq season is among us and the redroom moves outside to the tiny balcony. Grilling is a great way to cook pretty much any food and you can expect to see lots of different meats and veggies on these pages over the summer, we just had to kick off the start of things with a good old fashioned cheeseburger. This was also a prime opportunity to answer faithful reader Rebecca's request for more recipes using white truffle oil. As a pound of truffles cost about as much as my car, white truffle oil is a great way to dress up some plain mushrooms and give the dish a great flavor without having to mortgage your house. Just be sure to look at the ingredients and make sure you're buying an oil that's actually made from truffles and not artificial flavors. If you haven't already, go out and clean your grill because we'll make sure it gets plenty of use this year. Enjoy these beautiful spring days everyone!

beef and beans stiry fry

  • brown rice (I used Chinese take out)
  • pre-cut stir-fry beef (that's a lot of hyphens)
  • Chinese 5 spice (optional)
  • 1 bag of green beans and carrots
  • soy sauce
  • mirin
  • sesame oil
  • rice vinegar

Combine equal parts soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil and vinegar together, set aside. Sprinkle beef with a little Chinese 5 spice and brown in a little wok oil over high heat. Once cooked set aside and drain wok of any residue. In a little more wok oil cook veggies for about 5 minutes or until bright green. Turn heat off and add beef and sauce. Serve immediately over brown rice.

The dish: This an easy dish that can be made with a few instant ingredients and some stuff from your well equipped Asian pantry, we talked about that already, remember? We also went over some basic wok skills a while back, so you should be an old hand at this point. If you don't own a wok, go get one. There's no need to spend a lot of money, I have a cheap one and it's held up quite nicely throughout the years. Stir-frying is a great way to whip up a healthy (in spite of the name) dinner that can be ready in less time than most "instant" meals require.

salmon and mixed greens pita

Crumble salmon cakes with a fork. Combine salmon bits and greens in pita, drizzle with sauce.

The dish: Leftovers are great, "planned overs" are even better. Getting two meals from cooking once is never bad, but if they can be two different meals then that's all the better. This particular dish requires a bit of finesse as it's very difficult to have a condo full of people and be able to hide extras of a dish that everyone likes. Let's just say that Kim and I worked on our parental distractions (Wii) in advance and a few extra cakes were able to find their way into a Tupperware (It's not disrespecting the trademark if you use the real deal) in the fridge before anyone knew there were any left. Before you give me a hard time about being a bad host, remember, this was an appetizer, followed by a salad before the meal even began. Anyway, with the 1,000 or so milliliters of pinot griogio that was floating around no one seemed to mind too much of anything.

salmon cakes over creamy corn in a tarragon sauce

  • 1.5 pounds salmon (fresh, frozen, or canned will work)
  • 1 egg
  • bread crumbs
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen sweet corn
  • garlic, chopped
  • heavy cream
  • Dijon mustard
  • fresh tarragon, chopped fine

To make the sauce, whisk together about equal parts mustard and cream. Add tarragon and refrigerate. Chop salmon into small pieces, mix together with egg, bread crumbs and parsley. Form into cakes slightly smaller than the size of your palm. In a skillet over high heat, fry the cakes in a swirl of oil for about 1+ minute per side. Once all have been browned, transfer to a 275 degree oven in a covered dish. Meanwhile, saute the garlic (to taste) in a little olive oil over a medium high flame for about 3 minutes. Add corn and continue to cook for about 5 minutes until corn is cooked through. Reduce flame to medium and add a touch of heavy cream. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper and add any of the parsley or tarragon if you have any left over. Assemble by placing corn on plate, placing salmon over it and drizzling it in the sauce.

The dish: Much like the crab cake sandwich I posted, these cakes are pretty forgiving about exact measurements and spices so feel free to experiment and improvise. The corn was a nice touch, but the sauce was the star of the show. I'm not sure I ever used tarragon before, but I got the idea from something I read and the result was great. To create the cool drizzle effect I used one of those plastic condiment bottles people put ketchup in for picnics and just chopped a little off the top for the herbs to flow through. You can find those at the dollar store (Sam's dollar is the best around if you're local to the New Windsor area) and they're great to have on hand for such occasions. This entry is a little out of order as the cakes were actually served as a appetizer to our meal with the rents, but whatever. You could really serve this as a main dish just by increasing the portion sizes a bit.

red beans and rice

  • brown rice (instant or take out works fine)
  • 2 cans of small red beans, drained and rinsed
  • good quality vegetable stock
  • adobo
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • hot peppers, chopped fine
  • garlic, chopped fine
  • fresh cilantro, chopped fine

Prepare rice according to package (or open the bag that your take out rice came in and read your fortune cookie). In a saucepan over a medium high heat, saute garlic and onions in a swirl of olive oil for 3-5 minutes or until just browned. Add beans and a generous pour of vegetable stock and continue to cook, reducing the flame to medium low. If the liquid cooks off, feel free to add more, but be careful not to make it too soupy. As for the peppers, go according to your taste. I used two habenaros and it was hot but not uncomfortable. If you like food more mild, reduce quantity or use a less spicy variety of pepper; if you own stock in pepto bismol, then go nuts and add as much as you like. Add the peppers and cilantro and season to taste with the adobo. Continue to cook for as long as the rice takes adding stock as needed.

The dish: If you notice that we eat a lot of beans, it's at least partly because of two unique things about me; 1. my colon is about 18 inches shorter than yours and 2. I felt younger on my 30th birthday than my 29th. You see, on my 29th birthday I was in the hospital suffering from a severe diverticulitis attack that later caused me to undergo colon resection surgery, essentially cutting about a foot and a half out of my ass (regrettably not the part that would allow me to fit into smaller pants). No matter what old wives' tale you may have heard, diverticulitis has nothing to do with nuts or seeds or corn, but rather it's a disease that's brought about by dehydration and lack of fiber. The whole episode really opened my eyes and although I'm far from the picture of perfect health I've made a few small changes like eating plenty of roughage and drinking lots of water. Needless to say I felt quite a bit younger on my 30th birthday as I wasn't towing around an IV cart (I believe I named mine Claudia when I was in the hospital). Beans are a great way to up the fiber in your diet as they are versatile and cheap- there is a recession going on you know.

chocolate silk cake

  • 1 box chocolate silk cake
  • whip cream (dream whip is the favorite in our house)
  • cocoa powder

Prepare cake according to instructions on the box. We used a Duncan Hines dessert selects cake, but any will work. Arrange slice of cake on plate and top with whip cream and garnish with cocoa powder.

The dish: I'm sure if you were to consult with any of my old teachers they would verify this, but I do not follow directions well at all. I am unable to prepare any instant dessert because I always feel that "maybe it could just use a pinch more of something". That attitude may fly in cooking, but it's a recipe for disaster in baking. If you're new to the party, then you should know that there are two absolutes here: 1. dessert tastes best when instant and 2. Kim is pretty much awesome (and not just for her taste in husbands). She can scratch bake like no one's business, but she can also make instant anything and achieve great results, something I am truly envious of. Along the same lines she also has an aptitude at assembling furniture from Ikea. If you've never had the pleasure of the Swedish furniture giant, you have no idea what you're missing out on. We bought a new 6 drawer dresser this week and it fit comfortably in the trunk of our car in a box that's smaller than what most people deem to be carry on luggage. When you get it home the instructions have no words at all on them and there are many more pieces than you would expect a dresser to have. Needless to say, Kim can navigate through that mess and within just a little while we have a dresser that's a much more solid piece of furniture than you would expect it to be. So I guess the moral is that whether it's furniture or cake, Kim can bring great things out of boxes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

seared chicken in a sage gravy

  • boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • dried sage
  • gravy master
  • wundra flour
  • good quality chicken stock
  • dry white wine

Beat the hell out of the chicken with a meat tenderizer, season with a little coarse salt and fresh pepper. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a skillet over a medium high flame heat up a swirl or two of olive oil and brown chicken, cooking each side about 3 minutes or until seared. Transfer chicken to a pan in the oven and cover with tin foil. Once all the chicken is cooked, turn heat on pan up to high and add about 1 cup of wine for every 4 breasts that you cooked. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon making sure to scrape any bits of chicken funk from the bottom of the pan (those that have high opinions of their cooking abilities call this "deglazing"). Once reduced (about 5+ minutes), add about a cup of chicken stock and continue the process until that is relatively reduced, add herbs and turn heat off. Add a dash or two of the master, and whisk in wundra (using a silicone whisk- get one if you don't have one) until desired thickness is reached. Season to taste with salt and pepper, pour generously over chicken and serve.

The dish: I've extolled the virtues of using gravy master before; I wouldn't even think of trying to make a gravy without it. This chicken was the main course of our parental dinner and everyone seemed to like it. My sister and her husband stopped by for a pre-dinner visit (I offered for them to stay) with our niece and nephew so we had a full house as this dish came together. The kids were great and nobody seemed to mind that I was pulverizing raw meat in the next room. Thank goodness that all the parents read this blog, otherwise they might not find it so amusing that they had to refrain from eating the hot food in front of them while their son (in-law) leaned in to snap photos. They all learned something that Kim has known for a while; while most of the food you see on these pages tastes pretty good, it's never scalding hot by the time you get to eat it.

shallot and thyme mashed potatoes

  • 1 bag of yukon gold potatoes
  • fresh shallots, chopped fine
  • fresh thyme, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • olivio
  • coarse salt

Peel and chop potatoes into large cubes, boil over a high flame for 10 minutes or until they are soft and slide off a fork. Meanwhile, saute shallots in a little olivio over a medium flame for 10 minutes. Add cooked potatoes and shallots to large bowl, add cream and olivio, salt and thyme to taste, mash until smooth.

The dish: I've said it before; it's hard to find a dish that's more well liked and yet as easy and versatile as mashed potatoes are. Boil some potatoes, add some dairy and seasonings and wham- an instant crowd pleaser that goes with pretty much any dish. As you can tell from reading these pages I tend to like potatoes with some thyme in them, but pretty much any green herb will work. Any variety will work, but in a tradtitonal "meat and potato" recipe, splurge and go for the yukon golds, they're well worth the extra few pennies. I really try to not depend too heavily on salt in these recipes, but potatoes are one of those few things that just need a little to bring out their natural flavor.

boccoli with a balsmic orange sauce

  • fresh broccoli florets
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

In a large pan cook orange juice and garlic over high heat until it reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium high and simmer for 20 minutes or until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Meanwhile, steam broccoli until just cooked. When OJ is reduced (and if committing petty robbery in Vegas doesn't bring you down then what... never mind) add vinegar and cook for an additional 5 minutes over a medium low flame. Place cooked vinegar in bowl and strain sauce over it, discarding the garlic.

The dish: Steamed veggies are one of the greatest things you can eat, but almost nobody does without a small army of salt and butter to "dress" them up. We've been experimenting with different ways we can add flavor without adding too much bad stuff at the same time. This is a nice preparation that leaves the broccoli with a sweet and tangy taste that will make sure that you don't miss the salt and butter.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

salad with honey roasted rhubarb and Parmesan crisps in champagne vinaigrette

  • mixed salad greens
  • rhubarb, chopped
  • honey
  • Parmesan cheese
  • champagne vinegar
  • olive oil
  • sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large casserole dish combine rhubarb with a generous amount of honey and roast for 20 minutes or until cooked (I figured this would be messy, so I used a tray from the dollar store so I could just toss it when done). Once rhubarb is cooked, drain water and chill. Line a baking tray with parchment paper sprayed with olive oil, or a cooking spray if you don't own a Misto (there's that crass commercialism again- really folks, I don't sell this stuff). Place 3 inch ound piles of Parmesan cheese on tray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until just browned and crispy. Once done, set aside to cool. Whisk together oil and vinegar with a few pinches of sugar to taste. Assemble greens on plate, top with rhubarb and crisp, drizzle with dressing.

The dish: This salad was the beginning of a dinner where we hosted both Kim's and my own parents. Everyone had a great time (at least they lied to me and said they did) and this dish was a nod to both of our mothers. The rhubarb came directly from Kim's parent's garden, and my mother-in-law was happy to taste a new preparation of the amazingly bitter veggie. Them bringing me the rhubarb and wondering what I was going to do with it had a cool Iron Chef vibe to it. The crisps were something I made for Easter dinner last year (pre-blog) and my mother absolutely loved them. I would make them more often for her, but truthfully, Parmesan doesn't have the sweetest aroma and my kitchen tends to smell like a foot after making a batch. Be sure to have your exhaust fan on high when attempting this at home. Things went without a hitch though; Kim's parents loved the crisps, my parents loved the rhubarb and all we had were empty salad plates.

mixed fruit platter

  • assorted fruit in season

Chop fruit into bite sized pieces, I used cantaloupe, honeydew melon and mango. Arrange on platter with toothpicks and serve.

The dish: This is it folks: crass commercialism has entered the red room. There's really no magic behind "chop fruit and arrange on a platter", but I felt the need to show off the cool toothpick holder I've got. You too can own one as well simply by visiting the what on earth catalog. The box he came in said "Fred", but depending on the day or week I've had he (or she) can take on any number of names. Foodies can go out and spend hundreds (thousands?) of dollars on cast iron cookware, aluminum pans and designer knives, but the one piece of kitchen equipment sure to elicit a response from most everyone is the four dollar toothpick holder. Of course, if you come over to our home and fail to notice our porous friend, you can pretty much count on him taking your name for awhile. You've been forewarned!

gateway bean salad

  • 2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans chickpeas (or garbanzos for those of you that kill time in the Goya aisle), drained and rinsed
  • green onions, chopped fine
  • white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Whisk together equal parts oil and vinegar with lemon juice, pour over remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Add sugar and salt to taste if you really want to.

The dish: We are officially into the time of year where the weather is great and the trails are muddy for those of us that love to rip through the woods on bicycles. Every chance Kim and I get to be on the bikes we seize it, even if it means pushing a few tasks to the back burner (read: blog not updated so often). This year we're doing an okay juggling job, but three years ago we did NOTHING other than work and ride. We pretty much ate out every night and had leftovers for lunch, leaving the red room as nothing other than a transfer station for coffee cups and doggy bags. Our favorite haunt was the Gateway diner, an oasis of cold air conditioning and cheap, plentiful food. Each huge dinner comes with soup and salad bar, which means that you take home more food than you eat, even after being famished from a long day of pedaling through the greatest trails in Hudson valley. The Gateway salad bar has many high points; stuffed grape leaves, carrot salad, hard boiled eggs, and their famous (to Kim and I at least) kidney bean and chickpea salad. Filling up on bean salad meant getting plenty of protein and carbs for next day's ride, and there was always a ride the next day. This year we are not riding quite as often (but plenty), and we're still doing our best to eat at home, so refueling with our rendition of this beloved salad feels as great as you would expect it to.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

panko crusted salmon

  • boneless, skinless salmon fillets
  • Dijon mustard
  • fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Combine panko and parsley in bowl. Brush one side of the salmon fillets with mustard, using care not to dip the knife that was just on the raw fish back in the jar. Either use a squeezable container or spoon a fair amount of mustard into dish and discard remainder after done. Sprinkle panko on the mustard covered side of the salmon until well coated. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

The dish: Panko is just a fancy Japanese word that means "large bread crumbs". They give the fish a lighter texture than if you were to use traditional bread crumbs and play nicely off the flavor of the mustard. Don't wait for them to turn color in the oven, even when they're fully cooked they retain their gleaming whiteness. If you've been reading this blog you know that we like salmon and this is one of our favorite preparations as it's easy, healthy and unlike most anything else we cook at home. We served it alongside some Green Giant digestive health veggies, which is a nice mix of navy beans, spinach and yellow carrots.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

spinach and cannellini bean salad

  • 3 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 1 lemon

Combine juice of lemon with a equal parts olive oil and vinegar, whisk until combined, set aside. Combine all other ingredients in large bowl, pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

The dish: This is basically a variation on the theme of bean salads. They all start off with a base of beans with a few other veggies mixed in for good measure, and then they get topped with a oil and vinegar dressing. Even though this salad is only 1 or 2 ingredients different than a few others I've posted, each one tastes pretty distinctive and we haven't gotten bored of eating any of them. Beans and veggies are a great thing to load up on and these salads are an easy and tasty way to do just that. I suggest trying one for yourself, I think you'll be surprised at how much you like it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

London broil sandwich

  • sliced London broil (leftover works great)
  • horseradish sauce
  • shredded lettuce
  • whole wheat rolls

Spread a little sauce on both sides of cut roll. Place meat on bottom and cover with a generous amount of shredded lettuce.

The dish: I wasn't planning on blogging this sandwich made with leftovers I didn't even cook, but it came out so tasty I felt I had to. I love the flavor combination of horseradish sauce and steak on a sandwich, it's so rich that there's no need for cheese or much of anything else. Using leftover meat gives a great flavor that can't be had when you buy that shady stuff at the deli counter. The London Broil was made by my sister-in-law in celebration of Mother's day and it was delicious both the first and second go around.

carrot and endive tossed salad in balsamic vinaigrette

  • fresh leaf lettuce, cut into bite sized pieces
  • plain or mixed carrots, cut on the bias
  • endive, chopped fine
  • fresh dill, chopped
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • sugar
  • croutons (I used Texas Toast garlic and herb)

Combine lettuce, endive, carrots and dill. If you cannot find mixed carrots, or don't feel like paying more for them, plain works just fine. In a separate bowl whisk together equal parts vinegar and olive oil. Add sugar to taste and continue to blend. Serve salad in bowls and drizzle dressing on top.

The dish: This is the method for a basic vinaigrette. I used balsamic, but you could use sherry or champagne or any other wacky vinegar you have on hand. Where to find such succulent sounding condiments? On close out, of course. Stores like Marshall's or TJ Maxx or Home Goods are great for finding cheap and unique provisions. I've found the ones I've mentioned as well as lemon infused olive oil, orange infused olive oil, white truffle oil, raspberry champagne vinegar, Cabernet vinegar and many others. These are bottles that originally were much more than any of us would spend, but now you can have them for around $7 or less. Good vinegars can be cooked or used raw, but good oils should be reserved for when there's very little or no cooking involved. Go ahead and get the cheapest stuff you can find to saute with, but if you're going to use it as a dip or dressing splurge and pull out the good stuff.

asparagus and seared shallots in a lemmon butter sauce

  • 2 bunches fresh asparagus, cut on the bias (at an angle)
  • 5 shallots
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or Olivio)
  • 1/2 lemon

Melt butter over medium flame, add shallots and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add asparagus and saute for about 5 minutes or until asparagus is a bright green and crisp, but not raw. Turn off heat and add juice of lemon half. Season to taste with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, stir until blended.

The dish: Almost every time I see asparagus it's hiding out beneath a blanket of hollandaise sauce. It's not that I don't enjoy that preparation, it's just that I got curious and looked up how to make that velvety yellow sauce; take about a third of your body weight in butter and egg yolks and add some lemon to the mix. I'm not too strict with keeping a healthy diet, but I can't justify being that decadent without at least looking for an alternative. This dish gives you the fresh lemon and butter flavor without drowning the greens, and the shallots add a nice earthy touch. The ingredients for this dish were purchased in the middle of the night with faithful reader, Mike from Brooklyn. If you ever want to meet your blogger just go to Hannaford long after all the same people are done shopping for the day and look for the dude comparing heads of lettuce, that's most likely me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

flan with blackberries

  • 1 box flan
  • fresh blackberries

Prepare flan according to instructions on box. We used and loved the Dr. Oetker brand, but I'm sure any will work. Garnish with berries and serve.

The dish: Faithful readers know; dessert is best when instant. I'd put the taste and texture of this flan against any that I've ordered out; it was just that good. I'm not sure if it was difficult to make because I outsourced that to Kim (Chinese name and she has 3 jobs- coincidence?), but it was easy to eat. We had this as the finale to our Cinco De Mayo meal, but I'm confused because I've ordered flan in both Mexican and Italian restaurants, and this brand was made in Canada, so I have doubts about theme continuity, but what the hell- dessert is a common language among all cultures.

cilantro lime shrimp soft tacos

  • corn tortillas
  • 1lb large shrimp, shelled
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • lettuce, shredded

In a little bit of butter (or better yet, Olivio) brown onion and garlic over a medium flame for 5 minutes. Add wine, increase heat to medium high, continue sauteing until reduced, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp to pan, reduce heat back down to medium. Meanwhile, warm tortillas in oven for 3-5 minutes or in separate pan for about 30 seconds. Once shrimp is cooked (it will turn pink), add juice of lime to pan along with cilantro. Spoon mixture over lettuce placed on tortillas.

The dish: Back when your creditors could kick your ass for not paying (a possible solution to the sub-prime mess?), France invaded Mexico for being deadbeats. Cinco De Mayo is the celebration of the unlikely victory of Mexico in that battle (the French lost a fight- no way). Here in America us gringos use the day as an opportunity to eat spicy foods and drink tequila (not me, the last time I touched the nectar of agave I wound up on a bus going to Toledo wearing someone else's pants- but whatever). Cilantro, lime and tacos are three basic building blocks in Mexican cuisine, so putting them together was a no-brainer (which is good as I have a limited supply after the Toledo incident). I added the butter and wine as a nod to the French, as without their aggressive debt collection May 5th would be just another day. This dish worked well, but it could easily have been chicken or pork, or burritos or enchiladas. I served it alongside some poblano roasted corn and guacamole. This year more than ever we all need to celebrate the heritage of our neighbors to the south and forget all about that nasty cough so many of them seem to have. Happy Cinco De Mayo everyone!!

corn with roasted poblano

  • 1 bag frozen white and yellow corn
  • 1 whole poblano pepper
  • 1tsp Olivio (or butter, if you want to die)

Roast whole pepper in 300 degree oven for 20 minutes, remove. Once cooled, chop into little pieces. Cook corn according to package. Mix cooked corn, chopped pepper and Olivio together.

The dish: Growing up I didn't own one single baseball card. My childhood heroes were not men who threw balls and swung sticks, but rather men of social and business importance, specifically, Lee Iacocca. Against the advice of my fourth grade teacher I did my biography book report on his best selling autobiography and when he got canned from the Ellis Island project I wrote him to let him know at least one fifth grader was pissed off. Amazingly, he wrote back; it was the proudest moment of my young life. My love for Lido has not faded over time. I proudly own an old Chrysler and when it looked like there was going to be a "car czar", I was ready to go to Washington and lobby like hell for him. If you know anything of Mr. Iacocca, then you know of the immense love and profound sense of loss he holds for his first wife, Mary. Mary died nearly 30 years ago after a long struggle with diabetes, and to this day Lee is probably the strongest advocate on the globe for diabetes research, donating millions of dollars towards research and treatments. Olivio is a buttery spread made with olive oil that is much less destructive to your internals than either butter or margarine, and it tastes and spreads awesome. Developing and marketing the spread was just Lee's way of giving people a healthier, better tasting alternative, while furthering his philanthropy. I'm proud to say that my 10 year old self did a pretty good job at picking hero's.

Monday, May 4, 2009

unstuffed cabbage

  • 1 head of cabbage, chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped fine
  • 8 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • fresh oregano, chopped fine
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1lb ground turkey
  • cooked brown rice (take out or instant works fine)

In a swirl of olive oil, saute the garlic and onions over a medium flame for about 5 minutes, or until just browned, then add to crock pot. In same skillet, brown turkey over a medium flame until done. Add all ingredients except rice to your crock pot (remember, we just don't give a damn about generecizing trademarks), cover and cook on low for 6+ hours. Serve over rice.

The dish: Stuffed cabbage is one of those dishes that I'll order out because it's both delicious and a pain in the ass to prepare. Cabbage leaves are more delicate than you'd think and getting the whole mix cooked evenly without burning parts of it is a true art. I'm not sure how I came up with the idea of doing it like this, but you get about 95% of the flavor with about 10% of the work of the original. That and like every other slow cooker recipe you can prepare it in the morning, or even the night before if you're using a crock pot that was made after leg warmers went out of fashion. You can add cheese if you wish, but I think it works well without it. As always, feel free to subsitute dried herbs for fresh ones.

orzo and chickpea salad

  • 1lb orzo
  • 4 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • fresh dill, chopped
  • juice of one large lemon
  • high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • honey
  • adobo

Cook orzo according to package, then drain and rinse with cool water. In a separate bowl whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Combine orzo, chickpeas and dill to taste (I used a lot). Toss salad with dressing, season to taste with adobo or salt. Serve chilled.

The dish: Orzo is basically rice shaped pasta, and it works perfectly alongside the chickpeas. The flavor of the dressing is dependent on plenty of fresh lemon juice. Remember, in a dish this simple, using lemon juice out of the bottle (or plastic lemon shaped thing) will yield less than desirable results. To get the most out of each lemon, use them at room temperature and roll them a little under your palm before you slice it. I squeeze the juice before I add any of the other ingredients so that if I get a seed I can easily pick it out.